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Cold Fish (2011)

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Cold FishStarring Mitsuru Fukikoshi, Denden, Hikari Kajiwara, Asuka Kurosawa, Megumi Kagurazaka

Directed by Sion Sono

Distributed by Bloody Disgusting Selects


Cold Fish (Japanese title Tsumetai nettaigyo) is by far one of the more challenging films I’ve seen this year. With a hefty running time of 144 minutes, the movie features disturbing sexually charged material as well as some brutal dismemberment scenes that genre fans will find hard to forget. And even though Cold Fish isn’t generally a film I’d necessarily enjoy (I’ll be the first to admit my genre tastes are a little on the less extreme side), I found co-writer/director Sion Sono’s gleefully violent tale of an unassuming man who gets mixed up in the affairs of a prolific serial killer a quite intoxicating and haunting character study.

At the start of Cold Fish we meet downtrodden dreamer Shamato (Fukikoshi), the owner of a meager tropical fish shop who can’t seem to get any respect from the women in his life. His troublesome teenage daughter (Kajiwara) shoplifts as a way to rebel against her father’s young new wife, Taeko (Kagurazaka), who also secretly yearns for another life away from her emasculated husband that can’t seem to provide her the cushy life she imagined she was marrying into.

One night Shamato and his family cross paths with wealthy businessman Murata (Denden), who shares Shamato’s passion for aquatic life forms. It turns out that Murata (the equivalent of a crazy old uncle you try to avoid at your family Christmas parties) runs a far more successful fish shop across town, and he graciously offers to let Shamato’s daughter work at his shop as a way to reform the teenager and get her to straighten up. Shamato, who is literally between a rock and a hard place, agrees to the arrangement in an effort to save his marriage with Taeko and earn some respect from his daughter.

But what starts off as a harmless arrangement turns out to be a far more twisted venture, and soon Shamato sees Murata for what he truly is- a ruthless and demented sociopath that kills off anyone who second-guesses the businessman or shows him any disrespect. By the time Shamato realizes how deeply involved he has become in the twisted and gruesome exploits of both Murata and his wife, Aiko (Kurosawa), Shamato faces a mental breakdown, which sets off a deadly chain of reactions that will leave you stunned as you watch it unfold during the film’s final moments.

Helmed with a masterful eye by Sono, Cold Fish contains some of the most graphic imagery you will see on screen this year and is definitely not for the faint of heart either- it features an incredible amount of violence, several insanely violent sex scenes that might actually leave the Marquis de Sade blushing and some of the most brutal (yet hilarious) dismemberment scenes that make anything in the original I Spit on Your Grave look like child’s play in comparison.

While Sono has clearly demonstrated himself a masterful storyteller once again with Cold Fish, the one thing that perhaps would have made the film just a little more effective is if they could have trimmed about 20 minutes off the first act of the film. That’s the only time the story lags a bit, but once Murata and his intentions are unmasked, you really don’t mind how long it takes to get to that point because everything that follows is incredibly startling and provocative.

Overall, Cold Fish is going to be a ‘love it or hate it’ experience for genre fans out there. Loosely based on the true story of one of the most prolific serial killers in Japan’s history, the latest from Sono explores one simple man’s search for balance alongside the gritty realism of the world of serial killers, making Cold Fish a movie that you won’t soon forget.

4 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis


Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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